The Best Free Games on Android

By Dick Page 21 Mar 2019 7

Some of the greatest games ever have been freeware. The openness of the Android system has led to many, many freeware games making it onto the Play store. In this article, we look at the cream of the crop, only a handful of which you can find for free on Apple devices. None of these games have ads or IAP beyond donations, nor are they demos. They are full, free and unlimited.

Are you an iOS user? Don't worry, we've got you covered as well!

These are games that have been created by beautiful, dedicated teams of people for the love of the craft. They are free, really free -- free as in America, not free as in beer. No ads. No gold, diamonds, coins, elixir, timers, or hats. They are what was once called "freeware", and we're here today to share some of them with you...

Ananias (Google Play)

ananias free android games

Ananias is another mobile-focused but otherwise traditional roguelike. It's easily playable on a phone with traditional turn-based gameplay and nice-looking pixel graphics. What it adds is an online mode that lets you co-op play with your friends, or just track their solo progress through the dungeon. A newer paid edition has more classes, but the original is definitely a complete game by itself.

Arcane Sorcery (Google Play)

Arcane Sorcery Free Android

You know you want Master of Magic on your phone. Arcane Sorcery is a fantasy-themed 4X strategy game that is deeply devoted to the early 90s classics. That's sometimes to its detriment, but it should ring some nostalgia bells for many gamers. Arcane Sorcery is not the deepest experience out there, but for a freeware mobile title, you'll get your money's worth. Best played on a tablet, unless you like squinting.

Hidden Dimensions 3 (Google Play)

Hidden Dimensions 3 free android

Hidden Dimensions is a hidden gem of a digital collectible card game. Where hits like Hearthstone want your whole paycheck to keep competitive, Hidden Dimensions gives you several hundred cards that you can collect just by playing. Here, instead of magical wizard duels, you're commanding a starship and adding fighters and space stations to your fleet. Having reached its third iteration, Hidden Dimensions has been under development for a long time and the refinement shows.

To Arms! (Google Play)

to arms free android

There are dozens of deck-building dungeon crawlers on mobile right now, but not many of them will cost you absolutely nothing. To Arms! keeps things minimal so you can play it vertically on a small phone with few problems. Its graphics are nothing to write home about, with simple pixel art and little to no animation, but the gameplay is quite solid.

Influence (Google Play)

influence free android games

This recent title is an abstract Risk-like strategy game with randomly-generated hex maps. It has pass-and-play multiplayer with online play in beta. How many other games can you play online with one hand? Ads are present, but only as voluntary support for the developers, like a tip.

Alite (Google Play)

Alite free android games
Alite is a port of the classic space sim Elite from the 80's. It lets you fly around the galaxy trading, upgrading your ship, and blasting pirates with heat-seeking missiles and surprisingly decent mobile controls. Alite is worth playing for the pure freedom it gives you to pursue your own space opera dreams.

Void Pyramid (Google Play)

Void Pyramid

Void Pyramid looks and feels like that time you stayed home from school with a fever and played NES all day while coked out on cough syrup. It's an old-school console-style RPG and set in a bizarre alien world with an Egyptian theme rendered in lurid hues. Having been banished to the Void Pyramid, can you escape to defeat the Prime Pharoah? You can find a variety of solutions to problems depending on your character's class or skills: if one path is blocked by something too heavy for your stringbean to move, you can bet there's another way in for the luckier or more agile. The developer's other game Ramble Planet has a similar aesthetic and is also freeware.

Seedship (Google Play)

Seedship

The toughest choices are also some of the best choices, in terms of the rush you get when you gamble and it pays off. Seedship, a one man band project by John Ayliff, is full of tough decisions. You are an AI in control of a colony ship that's fled earth. You're carrying colonists in cryosleep, as well as all of the material, knowledge etc... you need to start a new world. But navigating interstellar space is dangerous, and the laws of decay are absolute - you must find a suitable world to set up shop before it's too late.

The best thing about Seedship is how it plays on your subjective opinion around the word 'suitable'. Every planet has a range of variables to consider, from the amount of water, to the quality of the atmosphere, to the availability of resources for expansion. You have a limited amount of surface probes with which to find this information out, although the longer your journey the easier it is find planet with a minimum standard in specific criteria. The problem is, with time comes danger - with each passing step, something will go wrong. You start off at peak condition (with all values at 100), as you travel you lose things. Knowledge, colonists, landing capabilities... your final score is a combination of what you had left to start the colony, plus the quality of the new world you chose to call home. 

Pixel Dungeon (Google Play)

best free pd

The easiest freeware game to recommend (of any kind) is the great Pixel Dungeon. This is a full-featured roguelike made to be controlled on mobile - in one handed portrait mode, no less! It's got classes, bottomless pits, status effects, secrets, randomly named potions that will set you on fire when you drink them, the whole kaboodle. The graphics are chunky pixels, but they are clear an communicative. The controls are simple, but the gameplay is anything but. You'll need to balance caution and daring to make it even a few floors in to this dungeon. The desktop version of this great game is paid, but the Android version is donation only!

Roguelike Honorable Mentions:

For a more mind-bending roguelike experience, try HyperRogue, which is set in non-Euclidean space on a hyperbolic plane. Among the granddaddies of roguelikes, only Nethack has a really good mobile implementation.

Battleheart (Google Play)

Best Free BH

Android users are lucky enough to have the excellent tactical RPG Battleheart gone truly FTP. Battleheart was one of the earliest big hits on mobile, spawning a couple of likewise well-received sequels. It achieves this success by boiling down classic RPG gameplay into a system perfectly suited for mobile play. It's entirely battle-focused with very little story, but what battles they are. You'll lead a four-person team of varying classes, strengths and abilities against a wide variety of monsters with World of Warcraft-style tank-heal-damage strategy. It's like an MMORPG but instead of forty friends you just need four fingers. You can swap out different class types and experiment with sets of complimentary abilities. It all looks and controls beautifully, smoothly animated with simple line-drawing controls that were born for mobile.

Warfare Incorporated (Google Play)

best free war inc

If you have a craving for Starcraft or Command & Conquer, but no Tiberium in the bank, you are in luck. On Android, Warfare Incorporated has successfully brought classic RTS gameplay to tiny touch screens in the form of a game that goes back to PalmOS of 2003. In this game, you command the forces of a far-future megacorp in its efforts to strip-mine an alien planet (keep in mind, this was developed before we all learned the valuable lessons of James Cameron's Avatar).

War Inc. especially does a great job of adapting RTS commands to mobile controls. The interface gets out of your way, and simple intuitive taps order your troops around. Its graphics will either tap your nostalgia bone or make you scream at their messy pixels, but nonetheless do a good job communicating the state of the battlefield. There's a great and extremely well-balanced campaign mode plus hundreds of user-created missions. Multiplayer also works well.

Mindustry (Google Play)

best free mindustry

Mindustry has an unusual spin on tower defense that makes it quite a bit more complicated than your typical time-waster. It will remind you immediately of Factorio, especially as your chains of production sprawl all over the map. It's played from a standard endless/survival formula that will drop you back at the beginning if you lose your base. To the basic TD formula, Mindustry adds conveyor belts that your towers need to keep running and supply chains that you need to keep building more towers. Running these systems efficiently is far more interesting and challenging than merely funneling creeps down corridors and wearing them away by attrition. The game includes a dozen maps and can be expanded with user-made downloads.

Mekorama (Google Play)

Best free mekoram

For puzzle fans, Mekorama [also on iOS] is a cute navigation puzzler in the vein of Monument Valley, but not quite so mind-twisting. You guide a cute robot around 3D mazes, dragging elements of the geography to make paths. There's no Escher-esque visual trickery, but that doesn't mean the puzzles aren't challenging! IAP are for donations only, and you can make and share your own levels through QR codes! The design is clean and the animation of the robot is utterly adorable. This is one of the very few freeware games available on iOS thanks to Apple's expensive developer hurdles, so be sure to give it a try and be doubly sure to drop a donation in the collection plate if you like it.

Open Panzer (Google Play)

best free open panzer

Open Panzer [also on iOS] is an easy recommend for wargamers. This is a traditional hex-based historical strategy game that has you commanding World War II troops at the battalion level through mission-based scenarios. It builds on the venerable Panzer General II -- one of the most classic wargames ever -- and has great mobile controls. Just be sure to play the tutorial first. You'll be commanding and upgrading thousands of different units through three lengthy campaigns of 72 different "semi-accurate" scenarios. It's a hardcore game, but if you've been interested in dipping your toe into wargaming, you could do worse.

Freeciv (Google Play)

best free freeciv

Yes, Civilization VI just came out on iOS Universal, but why play that mere demo when you could have an entire clone of the original classic for the price of exactly zero dollars? Freeciv is an open-source game originally on PC that is most similar to the classic Civilization II. If you've been living under a rock for thirty years, Civilization tasks you with guiding a civilization through six thousand years of gameplay, from the wheel to nuclear fission. Freeciv is well-implemented on Android, with new touch controls that are WYSIWYG but functional. The AI will provide a challenge, and there are tons of scenarios to undertake as well.

OpenTTD (Google Play)

best free openttd

This is a remake of Transport Tycoon, a business simulation game where you build transportation infrastructure. Okay, that sounds boring you think but then you've looked up and you've not just missed your bus stop, you're sitting in the bus mall and the driver is yelling at you to get the hell out. You'll make your fortune shipping products around the globe through a hundred years of gameplay, from steam engines to maglevs. The Android version is well-done, but doesn't provide a lot of guidance, so you may want to start on a desktop and them let your capitalist hunger take you to the mobile screen -- so long as it is one large enough for the tiny buttons and text.

Hall of Fame

  • Underhand
  • Birth of the Empires
  • The Battle for Wesnoth

There are so many great open-source and freeware games around these days I must have missed some great ones, so let us all know in the comments what else is out there. Just remember the rules: no demos, no ads, and no in-app purchases except for donations!

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